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Our jobs of parents aren’t just important when our kids are young – the things we do will impact our ids for a lifetime. My parents died more than 20 years ago, and my three brothers and I spread out over the globe and we we lost contact. Years later, we all started making contact with each other again.

We had huge gaps in our knowledge of each other, and yet there was an instant connection when we met up after years of separation. We shared so many things in common – like our father’s hay fever. We also shared a common heritage of family traditions. Our family did things a certain way. We have common memories of Christmas dinners when Uncle Doug would say grace in a low rumble that sounded like a freight train passing (I think even God had difficulty hearing what he was saying). It’s also nice to see that some of the traditions weren’t just remembered, they were also replicated. In all my siblings’ families are traditions of informality, hospitality and generosity that would make my late parents proud.

My wife and I have tried to establish traditions in our family that are worthwhile in themselves, but will also give our kids memories. Many of them are around Christmas – getting new pyjamas on Christmas Eve, the way we open presents and so on. I had no choice about passing on my baldness and hay fever to my kids (you could say noses run our family) but, unlike my biological genes, I have had the opportunity to create and edit my ‘family DNA’ and pass it on in habits and traditions. Have I been successful? Ask me when I’m dead.

With Christmas coming up, could I urge you to think about the way you do things. Create your own family culture. They might forget the gifts, but you want them to remember the way you celebrated Christmas, all their life.

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About Author

John Cowan

Writer, speaker and broadcaster, John Cowan shares his insight and opinions about the latest in parenting and family news in New Zealand. Hear John speak on radio stations every week throughout the country and regularly on national TV.  Follow @JohnCowanNZ on Twitter

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